Streets of Shadows … Now with New Cover Reveal

Bowing at this year’s Context Convention (Sept 26-28th) comes Streets of Shadows, the exciting crime meets urban fantasy anthology collection.  We’d already revealed the cover for those who supported our KickStarter campaign, now here’s the cover for our commercial release.  Edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon, it features an array of stories from great writers:

sos cover“What I Am” – Tom Piccirilli

“A Game of Cards” – A.C. Wise

“Shooting Aphrodite” – Gary Kloster

“Santa Muerte” – Lucy A. Snyder and Daniel R. Robichaud

“Morrigan’s Girls” – Gerard Brennan

“Such Faces We Wear, Such Masks We Hide” – Damien Angelica Walters

“The Man Who Has Been Killing Kittens” – Douglas F. Warrick

“The Large Man” – Paul Tremblay

“Unfilial Child” – Laurie Tom

“Street Worm” – Nisi Shawl

“Der Kommissar’s In Town” – Nick Mamatas

“The Shadow People” – Brandon Massey

Street_of_Shadows_LowRes“Hand Fast” – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

“Beware of Dog” – Kevin J. Anderson

“Stay: A Tale of the Spellmason Chronicles” – Anton Strout

“God Needs Not the Future” – Jason Sizemore

“Relics” – Tim Lebbon

“Cold Fear” – Lucien Soulban

“In Vino Veritas” – Tim Waggoner and Michael West

“Best Served Cold” – Seanan McGuire

“Toby’s Closet” – Jonathan Maberry

 

Now available for pre-order here!

Launch Party: Short Stories Edition

Dark-Discoveries-27Dark Discoveries #27 – I have always been a fan of this magazine and have been trying to get in it for quite a while now.  At long last I have finally succeeded.  “Communication Breakdown” was originally written for an anthology which never came to pass.  [There’s a lesson in there about writing for theme anthologies, or at least keeping your story not so specific to the anthology that you can’t re-sell it later.   I have a drawer with a couple other stories written for theme anthologies which are now destined for a collection.]  Anyway, this story is a foray into horror, inspired by an incident my wife related to me (she once received these mysterious texts meant for someone else … and she couldn’t help but write back).

ETA:  Here’s a review of the issue, where my tale was called a “a cool modern-tech-horror tale”

 

sword and mythosSword and Mythos (Innsmouth Free Press) – “Fifteen writers, drawing inspiration from the pulp sub-genres of sword and sorcery and the Cthulhu Mythos, seed stories of adventure, of darkness, of magic and monstrosities.”  This features one of my Sword and Soul stories, “The Iron Hut.”  The story starts one of my recurring characters, Dinga Cisse, last seen in the Griots anthology story “The Lost Son.”  These stories take place in the same world as “Warrior of the Sunrise” of The New Hero vol. 1 anthology.  “The Iron Hut” is a bit of a Robert E. Howard meets H.P. Lovecraft tale.

ETA:  Here’s a review of the anthology.

ETA:  And another.

Speaking of “Lost Son”, it is now up on the Far Fetched Fables podcast, read by Gregory Austin.

 

 

Help Fund My Robot ArmyHelp Fund My Robot Army - Has my story “I Used to Love H.E.R.” and is yet another story that takes place in my “Pimp My Airship” steampunk universe.  Here’s the premise of the anthology:  ”HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! is an anthology of science fiction/fantasy stories told in the form of fictional crowdfunding project pitches, using the components (and restrictions) of the format to tell the story. This includes but is not limited to: Project Goals, Rewards, User Comments, Project Updates, FAQs, and more. The idea is to replicate the feel of reading a crowdfunding pitch, so that even though the projects may be preposterous in the real world, they will feel like authentic crowdfunding projects as much as possible.”  Now, imagine trying to run a Kickstarter in a steampunk world, to fund the building of a girlfriend’s robot body, and you have my story.

 

 

 

Lastly, I just wanted to mention that Alethea Kontis’ Beauty and Dynamite collection has been re-released (Alliteration Ink).  This version has been updated with new material (and may be the first in a series if we’re so lucky).

beauty and dynamite

Go forth and buy, my pretties!

Streets of Shadows – TOC Announcement

Coming soon to your favorite places to buy books … Streets of Shadows.  Edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon.

SoS“What I Am” – Tom Piccirilli

“A Game of Cards” – A.C. Wise

“Shooting Aphrodite” – Gary Kloster

“Santa Muerte” – Lucy A. Snyder and Daniel R. Robichaud

“Morrigan’s Girls” – Gerard Brennan

“Such Faces We Wear, Such Masks We Hide” – Damien Angelica Walters

“The Man Who Has Been Killing Kittens” – Douglas F. Warrick

“The Large Man” – Paul Tremblay

“Unfilial Child” – Laurie Tom

“Street Worm” – Nisi Shawl

“Der Kommissar’s In Town” – Nick Mamatas

“The Shadow People” – Brandon Massey

“Hand Fast” – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

“Beware of Dog” – Kevin J. Anderson

“Stay: A Tale of the Spellmason Chronicles” – Anton Strout

“God Needs Not the Future” – Jason Sizemore

“Relics” – Tim Lebbon

“Cold Fear” – Lucien Soulban

“In Vino Veritas” – Tim Waggoner and Michael West

“Best Served Cold” – Seanan McGuire

“Toby’s Closet” – Jonathan Maberry

How to Train Your Dragon 2 – A Review

how to train your dragon 2 posterLike every other studio, DreamWorks Animation felt the pressure to do a sequel of a monster hit that would at least match and hopefully outshine its original (with a gross of anything less than hitting the half billion mark being seen as a failure).  Brought to the table was writer/director Dean DeBlois to take on Cressida Cowell’s YA book series, How to Train Your Dragon 2 should easily clear any such bar.

“No task is too small when it comes to serving your people.” – Stoick

Set five years after the previous movie, with, in a rare turn for an animated movie, all of the protagonists realistically aged, our hero Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) aims to entirely skip any awkward phase and move straight to handsome young adult.  His father, Stoick (Gerard Butler) still attempts to mold him into the proper successor, well, his idea of the proper successor to run their now dragon sanctuary village, Berk.

Hiccup still follows his heart, often leaving the village to follow his fancy on his faithful dragon, Toothless.  Despite capturing the spirit of a boy and his horse, Toothless still comes across as somewhere between between a cat and a big puppy.

Hiccup still has his circle of friends–Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Tuffnutt (T.J. Miller) and twin sister Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig)–and most notably his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera).  But the movie, despite the bookend sequences featuring them in a dragon race, quickly moves away from any obvious romp featuring them.

“Men who kill without reason cannot be reasoned with.” – Stoick

Instead Hiccup and Astrid are drawn into a mystery involving a heretofore unknown dragon species as well as a madman who seeks to control the alpha of the species (since he who controls the alpha controls all dragons).  Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) is a simpler brand of villain:  dragons + him = crushing all enemies.

However, complicating the story is the presence of Valka (Cate Blanchett) the dragon whisperer/Jane Goodall of the dragon set, and the polar opposite of Drago.   She protects a true dragon sanctuary, the only human allowed to know of its existence much less live among them for nearly two decades.  Thus paving the way for her role as Yoda training young Hiccup in the way of the dragon.

Between the natural tension between Hiccup and Stoick, the ease of Astrid and Hiccup, the gentle fondness among the circle of friends, the revelation of Valka, at the heart of the movie is the sense of family.  This backdrop makes the conflict and its repercussions that much more powerful.  The great thing about How to Train Your Dragon, either edition, is that it both respects and challenges its audience.  This time around, the movie commits to deeper themes allowed by its cast being older.  There is real loss and consequence to actions harkening back to any of a number of Disney movies like Bambi and The Lion King, while taking it to mythic levels.

“People are not capable of change.” – Valka

Whereas Hiccup was the moral compass in the first movie, here he is drifting in a way.  He doesn’t know who he is, part of him searching for a sense of his identity.  Even Toothless is searching for another Night Fury, rather than facing the possibility that he may be the last of his kind.  So much of our identity is grounded in the reflection of our parents.  Hiccup didn’t know his mother and can’t live up or into his father’s expectations.

We often have a distorted image of ourselves.  Like Hiccup, afraid to become his father because he never thought he could.  Believing instead various lies, like he was neither the chief his dad wanted him to be nor the peacekeeper he thought he was.  Instead, we need to remember who we are and who we were created to be, and embracing our giftings.  Only then can we echo Hiccup’s journey to his true self, and realize he has the heart of a chief and the soul of the dragon.

“This is who you are, son.” – Valka

How to Train Your Dragon 2 manages to reinvigorate the franchise by expanding the world and deepening the mythology.  To call the animation visually dazzling, majestic, and lush (with a deft use of 3-D) almost seems too obvious.  Almost like saying that this is a great sequel and a great movie.

Launch Party: KING MAKER by Maurice Broaddus

King Maker is now available as an audio book on Audible.com.  On one level, it throws me off when I hear people reading my work and repeating those words out loud.  I wrote those words that someone is reading and performing.  *I* did that.  THEY are *reading* them!  And as excited as I was when I stumbled across Mark reading the prologue from King Maker:

(by the way, here’s Mark Reads King Maker Prologue Part 2), I’m doubly excited to announce that King Maker is now available on Audible.com.

king makerI wanted to retell the legend of King Arthur in a completely new context.  Told through the eyes of homeless teens, drug dealers, and gang members, I also wanted to explore the idea that we, even cities, have shadows.  So on one level, it’s what makes it easy to “believe” that there is this magical underbelly to our everyday reality.  One that’s always there yet we never both to look for it or acknowledge it, filled with plant elementals, senile mages, trolls, fairies, and all manner of beasties.    At the same time, this magical shadow city serves as a kind of metaphor for another kind of shadow.  A very real world one:  homelessness.

With King Maker we are introduced to a world of outsiders, people who are typically “voiceless” in our society:  the homeless, drug addicts, gang members, prisoners, and the poor.  The powerless, the invisible, the “least of these” … and we peek into their world, see their faces, and hear their stories.  Sometimes through poor choices, sometimes due to circumstances beyond their control, they struggle to maintain their dignity, humanity, lives.  As they face fear, loss, spiritual hardships, and their very survival, King rises up.

So here’s King Maker.  Coming soon are King’s Justice and King’s War.  I’ll invite you to those parties, too.

Midnight Diner 5.2: A Hole of Social Media

My column for the second issue of The Midnight Diner (issue 5.2) is available.  Here’s the opener:

A Hole of Social Media

I.  Digging a hole

midnight diner 5.2People screw up.

Social media can be a tricky landmine field.  For example, take a tale of two friends.  One friend writes a well-intended blog, it gets taken wrong, and the conversation goes in all sorts of unintended places.  Another opines in the heat of passion in a blog post, Facebook status, magazine column as if they are just talking to their buddies and not living in the age of the Internet.  In either case, social media becomes the wild west, where anyone can see and jump into a conversation, and before long drama is up and running.  In either case, it’s easy for words to come tripping out of people’s mouths or off their fingertips in keyboard fury, ahead of their brains.  Social media captures a snapshot of people, sometimes leaving them exposed as … in a hole.

(continued in The Midnight Diner 5.2 available here)

X-Men: Days of Future Past – A Review

Endless Days of Future Paradoxes

posterA true sense of reverence to the X-Men history buoys this entry into the franchise.  It helps that this comes on the heels of the terrific X-Men:  First Class as well as the surprisingly good, The Wolverine.  The Days of Future Past screenplay, by writer-producer Simon Kinberg, from a story by Jane Goldman, Kinberg and Vaughn, takes its name for a two part story *way* back in Uncanny X-Men 141-142, where we get to see a possible future timeline where the sentinels have run amuck.  [This would eventually lead to a convoluted history to the franchise (with the way time travel stories working, that timeline was both averted and still exists because … yeah).]  Hardcore comics followers also get to see Wolverine before he gets his adamantium skeleton, touching on yet another major comic’s storyline.

All of this may point to the fact that Bryan Singer seems to not only “get” the X-Men but truly loves them.  His absence was felt during the third X-Men movie, whose director obviously DID NOT get or love the characters while at the same time, Singer didn’t seem to have as strong a connection to the Superman canon.

“What if this is who she is?” –Hank/Beast

Opening with a sequence reminiscent of Magneto’s experience with the Holocaust, a group of renegade mutants, including Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Storm (Halle Berry), hide from robot hunter/exterminators, Sentinels.  A future Kitty Pryde uses her (just cause) consciousness transference powers to send a future Wolverine back along his own timeline in order to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), creator of the Sentinels.  However, it’s her capture and subsequently extrapolated DNA which creates the next gen power adapting Sentinels which go on to wipe out mutants and humans alike in the future.

In the unfamiliar role of voice of reason and mentor, Wolverine is tasked with putting the band back together, getting a past disillusioned and strung out Professor X and a past tormented and angry Magneto to work as a team, bolstered by the Beast (Nicholas Hoult).  The script manages to wring out more than its share of laughs along the way.  A big part of this includes a spectacular scene where Peter Maximoff, aka Quicksilver (a character who gets to be in both the X-Men and Avengers franchises, though without cross-referencing) helps break Magneto out of his cell under the Pentagon.  Too bad he isn’t in the film more.

“Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn’t mean they are lost forever.” –Professor X

magnetoX-Men: Days of Future Past demonstrates an emotional depth rarely seen since the temptation of super hero stories is to go for maximum action.  The movie revolves around relationships and redemption.  The relationship between Magneto and Professor X; Professor X and Mystique; Mystique and Magneto.  At its core is characters working through how to define themselves:  Professor X, the only character who gets to confront his younger self; Mystique (if she is to be the woman Professor X imagined her to be or the one Magneto hopes to mold her into) and Magneto (who has to struggle against the demons of his past which fuel his sense of mission).  And the stakes are huge:  their choices essentially determining the fate of human and mutantkind.

“We give you a second chance to define who you are.” –Professor X

A human being is defined by who loves them. They can be defined by the pain of their past or be defined by the loved of God.  They can find their identity in lies and self-deception or find their self-worth in truth. Magneto and Mystique each come to their own moment of crisis, a crossroads point, and have a decision to make as far as who they are going to be and how they are going to live.

Brokenness can be redeemed. Finding redemption means washing their own wounds and past, giving up those histories of hurts, and letting go of them. It means finding forgiveness, for themselves as well as others. In so doing, their wounds might become occasions for new visions.  Real love risks and offers redemption and when loved well, we’re taught about God.

“You can show them a better path.” –Professor X

The thing about time travel/alternate future stories is sort of like watching alternate universe scenarios play out (or reading Marvel Comics’ What If …? Series):  we’re allowed to experience the shock and pain of our heroes suffering/dying without the actual consequences to their canon (I know, I know, we’re still talking about comics’ canon where no one truly dies for long).

The other thing about time travel stories is that most times they breakdown if you think about them too hard.  We have to pretty much accept the “just cause” rule of time travel as to why any action occurs in the future once Wolverine gets sent into the past to change said future (but “just cause” we want to see more Bishop and Blink in action works).

By the time the movie is done, it essentially gets to reset continuity (so only Wolverine has to remember the third X-Men movie).  For everyone else, next up is X-Men:  Apocalypse.

A Wedding Toast

Two dear friends of mine (and Mo*Con mainstays!) were recently married and I was asked to give a toast at their reception.  Unfortunately, I was way-laid by a stomach bug/food poisoning (it was quite the toss up, literally and figuratively, considering what I was eating before I got sick), and wasn’t able to make their reception.  Since I wasn’t able to make it, and because I told her I would, I thought I’d post here what I would have said:

 

A Toast

rhonda and craigFor those who don’t know me, my name is Maurice Broaddus.  I’m a horror and fantasy writer.  I even started an annual writers’ convention and named it after myself, Mo*Con, because, well, I like me a lot.  Now one of the things I’ve always said about Mo*Con is that it’s about relationships.  As much as I’m here to toast the happy couple, I want to talk to you about how this relationship has affected me.

Like I said, I’m a horror writer, I write books, so you can imagine how Rhonda and I first met.  Now Rhonda loves several things:  she loves horror, she loves books, and she loves being in relationship.  Now Rhonda and I’s relationship has grown and changed over the years.  She’s gone from fangirl to friend.

I don’t think you quite get the totality of the transformation of this relationship.  I went from esteemed author, the guy she was nervous to even engage in a conversation, the guy worthy of fan adoration to … her girlfriend.

I no longer got to hear about how great my stories were, I got to hear about diets and outfits and, worst of all, boy troubles.  Oh Lord, she was a walking train wreck of dating calamity.  Non-stop complaints about her dating troubles.

All of which stopped when she met Craig.

I hadn’t met Craig, but I knew all about Craig long before I met him.  My one big take away about Craig:  Rhonda didn’t have to worry about “boy troubles” anymore.  Rhonda had to get used to the idea of having a man in her life who cared about her, wanted to be with her, appreciated her just the way she was.

I learned something else about Craig the first time I got to meet at a Mo*Con.  All of you who don’t know him that well should try this too:  he loves it when a total stranger gives him a hug.  A long unflinching hug where all you’re doing is saying “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

As we’re invited into people’s lives, we’ve had the privilege to watch relationships start and blossom.  I’ve had that privilege with Rhonda and Craig.  I’m sure you agree, these are two special people who have found each other.  And we’re honored to share this time, this moment, with them.

To Rhonda and Craig.

Launch Party: HADES’ DISCIPLES by Michael West

Michael West is two books into his Legacy of the Gods series through Seventh Star Press.  He’s still feeling the effects of Mo*Con, but he invites us to the launch of his latest, Hade’s Disciples.  

Lessons Learned at Mo*Con: Hades’ Disciples by Michael West

Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending Mo*Con 9Hades Disciples_Small.   In fact, I’ve attended every Mo*Con, and while each one has been a festival of sorts, bringing together friends and peers from the wide world of publishing and art for a weekend-long party, the topics addressed and the issues discussed are weighty ones indeed: race, sex, discrimination, sexual orientation, God, religion, mental health, marriage, relationships, feeling like an outsider to normal society, how our views on it all color the way we see the world and interact with one another, and of course, how all of this affects what we read and what we write.

The long days—and very late nights—of Mo*Con, like most conventions I attend throughout the year, leaves me feeling drained afterward, but also quite energized.  Being around so many artistic people, you can’t help but get your creative batteries charged.  And those charged batteries often power new and amazing projects.

For me, one of those projects has been my dark Urban Fantasy series; The Legacy of the Gods, which began in 2012 with the publication of Poseidon’s Children, and continues now with the release of my new novel, Hades’ Disciples.

In Hades’, terrifying creatures exist all around us, hiding in plain sight. Ancient. Deadly. They gather in secret, conspiring, dreaming of nothing less than humanity’s destruction, and their numbers are growing.  Earl Preston knows the danger all too well. After tangling with a horde of mythological sea monsters in Colonial Bay, he has been tasked with finding these beasts and exposing their plans whatever they may be. But Earl is not the only one with a mystery on their hands. At the very top of the world, Carol Miyagi has stumbled onto an artifact from Earth’s past, something magnificent held captive in a prison of ice and snow. Now, Carol and Earl must work quickly to decipher the will of the gods–a plot that defies imagination–and to stop their followers from carrying it out.

Earl is African-American, struggling to do what’s right and to make his father proud.  Carol is Asian-American, raised in both the United States and Japan, and yet not feeling a real connection to either culture.   There are other major characters too, none of whom fit comfortably into any typical mold.  They are people who are outsiders to mainstream society, people who are uncomfortable in their own skins, and people who struggle with their own faith and sanity.  Basically, they’re the sort of people who would fit right in on your average Mo*Con panel.

The panels at Mo*Con are all about finding common ground, about breaking down the walls of ignorance and uncertainty that divide us.   The characters in my Legacy novels must learn to work together, despite their various differences, in order to save the world.   Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all do the same?

Signed, Limited Edition Hardcovers of The Legacy of the Gods Book Two: Hades Disciples are now available for pre-order through Seventh Star Press.  There are also a few copies still available for Book One: Poseidon’s Children, which you can add to your order for no additional shipping and handling.

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Website: http://www.bymichaelwest.com

Amazon store: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-West/e/B007QD125G/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bymichaelwestpage

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bymichaelwest

 

 

 

Midnight Diner 5.1: Writing the Other? Check Your Privilege

Oh, did I mention that I have been writing a column for the newly re-launched Midnight Diner?  Editor-in-Chief, Michelle Pendergrass, approached me to do the articles, which in turn has sort of sparked me doing more on my blog.  SOOOOO, you have her to blame.  Here’s the opening of the first column:

 midnight diner 5.1Writing the Other?  Check Your Privilege

Welcome to my inaugural column here at the Midnight Diner.  I suppose some measure of introduction is in order to give you a head’s up on what you’re in for.  On my blog and in my stories, I like to regularly explore non-controversial topics, such as race, religion, politics, and class. I have a story in the latest issue of Asimov’s SF.  “Steppin’ Razor,” a steamfunk tale with a re-imagined Jamaica as a superpower, England ruling the world (including the American colonies), robots, Rastafarians, assassins, and the clone of Haille Selassie, and the fact that, as one reviewer noted, “there are no white characters in the story.”

I’ve perused a handful of other reviews and you might be surprised to find out that there are no notes concerning the lack of black or non-white characters in other stories.

Should I await the lecture on writing the other?

(continued in the Midnight Diner 5.1 available on Amazon now)